WCL Insights: Leadership Then and Now


Leadership Then and Now: Insights from our Founder

By Sharon Buckmaster, Founder of WCL

When I think back to the founding of WCL in late 1999, I recall that we were sitting around my dining room table and someone asked me if I could envision a picture of the organization in 15 years. Visions for the future have never been my strong suit, but I knew as a leader, we needed a common vision of the potential for WCL to strive towards. So, with more hope than belief at that point, I said I wanted us to become the hub for all things related to women and leadership in the Pacific Northwest, with a permanent space, a paid executive director and multiple activities and options for participation every month.

 So, wowza, be careful what you wish for, right?

 It took a little longer than 15 years, but we are well on the way to becoming exactly that hub. Through the hard work of many, many board members and volunteers over the years, we have grown and prospered in so many ways.  Close to 1,000 women are participating in lectures, workshops and discussion groups each year, and yes, connecting and networking along the way. Some do one event a month, others are at almost every one. We’re happy to see you whenever and however it suits your work and life schedule. The important consideration to me is that we are providing services that help you move forward on your leadership journey, which I know isn’t always easy or sadly, without trauma and/or drama.

 Today’s generation of leaders face challenges that are both similar to my generation and markedly different. As a baby boomer in corporate life, it was evident early on to me that the leadership pipeline narrowed so extremely that only the most remarkable of women would succeed, while a mediocre man (referred to by my husband as “an empty suit”) could occupy a corner office. We thought that would all be “fixed” by now and to some extent, it is certainly better. But today’s challenges -- climate change, intractable and posturing politicians across the globe as well as at home, the opioid crisis and endless cycles of warfare and starvation to name but a few -- demand the best minds and hearts we can produce to create solutions instead of kicking the problems down the road. This is true in corporate life, in the not-for-profit world, in politics and in our local communities.

 I hope you will add your energy, ideas, and enthusiasm to WCL’s “one-stop shop” for women and leadership as we develop and grow. And yes, expansion beyond Portland may take a few more years but it’s the journey, right, not the destination?

 See you at one of our upcoming events! And please do come and say hello to me.